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Bovine Subway



Edible Geography has another deliriously interesting post, this one on a mythological or not-so mythological tunnel in New York City through which cattle may or may not have been herded on their way from distant pastures to the slaughtering houses in the city.

Real or not, it's fascinating to speculate what might be the ideal geometry of such an underground thoroughfare for livestock. Quoting Nicola Twilley (emphasis ours):

[A]ccording to Temple Grandin, the autistic savant who is also known as “the woman who thinks like a cow,” cattle can happily walk through a tunnel—but only if it’s designed correctly. The ideal cow tunnel, she explains in her book Animals in Translation, would use indirect lighting and a non-slip floor, as well as grey or beige paint, and sound-absorbent surfaces. Any sloping sections would be single file, the tunnel should get bigger along its length in the direction of movement, and finally—fabulously—it should be curved, so that the cattle “just sort of go round and round and round like the Guggenheim Museum.”


Incidentally, we have collected quite a few CAD drawings of cattle sorting pens based on Grandin's ideal sorting program. Their serpentine design takes advantage of the cattle's circling behavior and tendency to want to go back where they came from. Moreover, it prevents the animals from seeing people and other moving objects at the end of the chute.

Cattle Corral


Cattle Corral


Cattle Corral


Splice hundreds of these units together, and you might have the basic configuration of an urban corral. Instead of a (relatively) straight tunnel with sharp turning angles, you have a tunnel smoothly weaving through New York's or some other city's subways, sewers and basement floors like a meandering stream, following perhaps the old route of a desiccated river.
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